Killarney is the perfect base for all your touring options in Kerry & West Cork. You really are spoiled for choice, from scenic driving routes and boat tours to ancient islands to exploring the County’s adventure/ historical/ cultural and nature trails.
Recommendation – So many visitors try to fit ‘everything’ into one day while visiting Killarney and so the tours end up being rushed; if you are travelling these routes privately or by yourself, you will want enough time to ensure you can stop and take photos, visit the various places of interest in each town/ village and take in the breath-taking sights around every corner. Particularly for the Ring of Kerry Tour as there is so much to see en route.
Below are some of the most popular day tours:
The Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is by far the most famous Day Tour in Ireland, if destinations received Oscars then this tour would be nominated each year. Throughout its 216 kilometres, you will travel around the magnificent MacGillicuddy Reeks Mountain Range and the Iveragh Peninsula, along the breath-taking Atlantic Coast, Dingle Bay and Kenmare Bay, returning to Killarney through the famed Molls Gap, Ladies View and Killarney National Park. En route, are the lovely coastal villages of Glenbeigh, Waterville and Sneem and the thriving market towns of Killorglin and Cahersiveen. The beautiful town of Kenmare is a must for the independent traveller.
The Ring embraces many historical, cultural and archaeological points such as the Heritage Centre, Stone Circles, the Old Barrocks and Castle ruins in Caherciveen; The Skellig Experience(Valentia Island), Derrynane House, prehistoric Staigue Fort and Kenmare Heritage Centre. You will definitely need to allow time for photo stops, shop visits and lunch on this tour.
Dingle, Blasket Islands & Slea Head
Slea Head is Europe’s most westerly point and its outlying historic Blasket Islands are known locally as the ‘next parish to America’. The beauty of its rugged coastline and landscape inspired the famous film director David Lean, to shoot his epic film ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ on location in the Dingle Peninsula. The area is packed with ancient historic sites and early Christian dwellings such as, Gallarus Oratory [9th century Christian Oratory], Beehive Huts (early Christian Monks dwellings) and the Blasket Islands Interpretative Centre.
The Blasket Islands are only a 15km drive from the Dingle village of Dun Chaoin and from there you can relax and enjoy a 20 minute ferry ride to the magical Islands. Although the islands are only 20 minutes from mainland, the isolation and sheer uniqueness of the culture that remains gives a feeling of a completely different world. The islands were inhabited until 1953 and the strong cultural linkage derives from the Gealtacht and Irish speaking natives.
Departing Killarney, the route passes through Milltown and Castlemaine before arriving at the beautiful fishing harbour town of Dingle, home of Dingle Oceanworld and Fungie; Ireland’s favourite bottle nose dolphin who has been busy entertaining visitors off the coast of Dingle since 1983 . You can take a boat tour around the coast and who knows, you just might be lucky enough to see the famous Fungi for yourself!
If you are a sea food lover, then you will most definitely want to stop for lunch in Dingle town.
Then onwards and around the ever scenic Slea Head and back via Dingle to Killarney. Allow c. 6 hours for a leisurely tour.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996 and home to one of Ireland’s earliest monastic settlements, Skellig Michael (Sceilig Michíl) offers an unforgettable experience. The Skellig Islands, Skellig Michael at 218 meters and Small Skellig, appear dominantly off the Atlantic coast in South Kerry, near a quaint village called Portmagee; on the Ring of Kerry route.
Famously and most recently, Skellig Michael made an Oscar worthy performance appearing in the latest of the Star Wars franchise.
The history of Skellig Michael dates back to 600AD and holds stories of suppressed Catholics who sought refuge on the island. Today it houses the remains of an impressive Christian Monastery, which derives from the 6th-8th century and remained occupied by the St. Fionan’s monks until at least the 12th century. The fantastic stone beehive huts, as seen on the island today, were home to the monks who settled there all those years ago. A little more than in most households today, the monks only had to descend 670 steps each time they wanted to catch food, as their diet mainly consisted of fish and seabirds. The monks fled some time around the 13th century and the island soon became a very popular pilgrimage destination.
The Small Skellig is home to the second largest colony of gannets in the world, providing a home for over 27,000 of these seabirds.
Tours of the island are available via Skellig Islands and it is advisable to book well in advance due to the demand +353 66 9472437
The Beara Peninsula
Forming the coastal boundary between Kerry and Cork, the Ring of Beara Peninsula at 137km is in a world of its own with unique rugged landscape and glorious coastal views while taking in many quirky villages along the route. The Healy Pass, the road which passes the Caha Mountains between Kerry and Cork, is akin to a dramatic scene in a movie; winding around the coastal edges with panoramic views of inspiring landscape. This route leads you through many fishing villages, most notably, Glengarrif. If you have enough time, a boat trip out to the Garnish Islands & Italian Gardens will really add to your day. The peaceful air around the island as well as magnificent views is sure to make lifelong memories in your holiday collections.
The Wild Atlantic Way
Arguably the most breath-taking coastal driving route in the world, the Wild Atlantic Way spans an awesome 2,500km taking in the North, West Donegal, Galway, Cork and fortunately one of the five winding sections is a glorious road leading to Killarney, Co. Kerry in Southern Ireland. The route can driven from either end of the Country and you can choose the sections you wish to take, as you may not have the time to complete it all.
The Kerry stage of the Wild Atlantic Way is 350km; setting out from Killarney and on to Killorglin, you will eventually reach Dingle Bay and the ‘road to America’. Taking the Slea Head route around the coast, you will be greeted with fantastic view of the Skelligs & powerful coastline and Blasket Islands. Take your time to enjoy this stunning wonder of Mother Nature.
Further detailed information on the above tours can be provided by the below tour operators:
Corcoran Coach Tours – Call: 00 353 64 36666
Dero’s Tours – Call: 00 353 64 6631251
Kerry Coaches – Call: 00 353 64 6631945
J O’ Callaghan & Sons – Call: 00 353 64 6631095
Wild Kerry Day Tours – Call: 00 353 64 6631052